I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself, by Marisa Crane
In a United States not so unlike our own, the Department of Balance has adopted a radical new form of law enforcement: rather than incarceration, wrongdoers are given a second (and sometimes, third, fourth, and fifth) shadow as a reminder of their crime—and a warning to those they encounter. Within the Department, corruption and prejudice run rampant, giving rise to an underclass of so-called Shadesters who are disenfranchised, publicly shamed, and deprived of civil rights protections.
Kris is a Shadester and a new mother to a baby born with a second shadow of her own. Grieving the loss of her wife and thoroughly unprepared for the reality of raising a child alone, Kris teeters on the edge of collapse, fumbling in a daze of alcohol, shame, and self-loathing. Yet as the child grows, Kris finds her footing, raising a child whose irrepressible spark cannot be dampened by the harsh realities of the world.
Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun (Finlay Donovan #3), by Elle Cosimano
Author and single mom Finlay Donovan has been in messes before―after all, she’s a pro at removing bloodstains for various unexpected reasons―but none quite like this. When Finlay and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they had “borrowed” in the process of saving the life of Finlay’s ex-husband, the Russian mob did her a favor and bought the car for her. And now Finlay owes them.
Mob boss Feliks is still running the show from behind bars, and he has a task for Finlay: find and identify a contract killer before the cops do. The problem is, the killer might be an officer.
The End of Drum-Time, by Hanna Pylväinen
It’s 1851 at the edge of the arctic circle, and things are changing quickly. The church outpost that Lars Levi, a fervent Lutheran minister, mans is a rugged, sparsely populated one. But as the zeal of his teachings mounts, so does the attendance at the weekly services he holds. The Sámi reindeer herders he’s been sent to minister to are skeptical of the Christian values—and strict rules—he preaches, but when Biettar, one of the Sami’s most respected herders, has a dramatic religious awakening on the shortest day of the year, more and more of the Sámi people become ready to let their long-held traditions and beliefs give way to new ones. Biettar’s new commitment to Lars and his teachings means that Biettar’s son, Ivvár, is left to tend the family’s reindeer herd alone, an increasingly impossible task.
Meanwhile, Lars’s daughter, Willa, has always been the picture of obedience, until a chance encounter with Ivvár leads to an infatuation that gradually becomes something more. When a catastrophic illness threatens the life of her young brother, everything she’s ever believed is called into question, making her feel reckless—and free—in a way she’s never been before.
Ghost Season, by Fatin Abbas
A mysterious burnt corpse appears one morning in Saraaya, a remote border town between northern and southern Sudan. For five strangers on an NGO compound, the discovery foreshadows trouble to come. South Sudanese translator William connects the corpse to the sudden disappearance of cook Layla, a northern nomad with whom he’s fallen in love. Meanwhile, Sudanese American filmmaker Dena struggles to connect to her unfamiliar homeland, and white midwestern aid worker Alex finds his plans thwarted by a changing climate and looming civil war. Dancing between the adults is Mustafa, a clever, endearing twelve-year-old, whose schemes to rise out of poverty set off cataclysmic events on the compound.
The Chinese Groove, by Kathryn Ma
Eighteen-year-old Shelley, born into a much-despised branch of the Zheng family in Yunnan Province and living in the shadow of his widowed father’s grief, dreams of bigger things. Buoyed by an exuberant heart and his cousin Deng’s tall tales about the United States, Shelley heads to San Francisco to claim his destiny, confident that any hurdles will be easily overcome by the awesome powers of the “Chinese groove,” a belief in the unspoken bonds between countrymen that transcend time and borders.
Upon arrival, Shelley is dismayed to find that his “rich uncle” is in fact his unemployed second cousin once removed and that the grand guest room he’d envisioned is but a crappy sofa. The indefinite stay he’d planned for? That has a firm two-week expiration date. Even worse, the loving family he hoped would embrace him is in shambles, shattered by a senseless tragedy that has cleaved the family in two. They want nothing to do with this youthful bounder who’s barged into their lives. Ever the optimist, Shelley concocts a plan to resuscitate his American dream by insinuating himself into the family. And, who knows, maybe he’ll even manage to bring them back together in the process.
The Betrayed, by Reine Arcache Melvin
Shy, idealistic Pilar is resolved to carry on her dead father’s fight against the dictatorial regime in control of their homeland, while her flamboyant older sister Lali reacts to their father’s death by marrying the enemy—Arturo, the dictator’s godson. Each sister is prey to her desires and ambitions as she tries to find her place in a rapidly changing world.
Taking in the Philippines’ troubled history from the Marcos dictatorship to the establishment of the current autocratic regime, and expertly layering into this timely story many aspects of the human condition, The Betrayed is a complex and luminous novel.
Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion, by Bushra Rehman
Razia Mirza grows up amid the wild grape vines and backyard sunflowers of Corona, Queens, with her best friend, Saima, by her side. When a family rift drives the girls apart, Razia’s heart is broken. She finds solace in Taslima, a new girl in her close-knit Pakistani-American community. They embark on a series of small rebellions: listening to scandalous music, wearing miniskirts, and cutting school to explore the city.
When Razia is accepted to Stuyvesant, a prestigious high school in Manhattan, the gulf between the person she is and the daughter her parents want her to be, widens. At Stuyvesant, Razia meets Angela and is attracted to her in a way that blossoms into a new understanding. When their relationship is discovered by an Aunty in the community, Razia must choose between her family and her own future.
The Book of Everlasting Things, by Aanchal Malhotra
On a January morning in 1938, Samir Vij first locks eyes with Firdaus Khan through the rows of perfume bottles in his family’s ittar shop in Lahore. Over the years that follow, the perfumer’s apprentice and calligrapher’s apprentice fall in love with their ancient crafts and with each other, dreaming of the life they will one day share. But as the struggle for Indian independence gathers force, their beloved city is ravaged by Partition. Suddenly, they find themselves on opposite sides: Samir, a Hindu, becomes Indian and Firdaus, a Muslim, becomes Pakistani, their love now forbidden. Severed from one another, Samir and Firdaus make a series of fateful decisions that will change the course of their lives forever. As their paths spiral away from each other, they must each decide how much of the past they are willing to let go, and what it will cost them.
The Weight of Air, by Kimberly Duffy
In 1911, Mabel MacGinnis is Europe’s strongest woman and has performed beside her father in the Manzo Brothers Circus her entire life. But at his unexpected death, she loses everything she’s ever known and sets off in the company of acrobat Jake Cunningham for America in hope of finding the mother she’s just discovered is still alive.
Isabella Moreau, the nation’s most feted aerialist, has given everything to the circus. But age and injury now threaten her security, and Isabella, stalked by old fears, makes a choice that risks everything. When her daughter Mabel appears alongside the man who never wanted to see Isabella again, Isabella is forced to face the truth of where, and in what, she derives her worth.
In this evocative novel from Kimberly Duffy, the meaning of strength takes center stage as the lives of three circus performers become entangled beneath the glittering lights and flying trapeze of Madison Square Garden.